"Our company's philanthropic philosophy is to make high-quality, affordable, life-saving vaccines available for under-privileged children in both India and in more than 140 countries across the world," says S.V.Kapre, executive director of the Serum Institute of India. "This new partnership with Syracuse University will help the Serum Institute further this endeavor as it will open new doors of vaccine usage."
The Institute approached Doyle because of his successful research to develop an oral form of insulin, which may someday enable people with insulin-dependent diabetes to take fewer daily injections. An oral vaccine for tetanus would enhance distribution in impoverished countries. Doyle's team will also explore new ways to synthesize the rotavirus vaccine to make it more accessible to children in developing nations.
A new laboratory has been established in SU's Center for Science and Technology for the research, which poses a number of challenges. Similarly to insulin, the protein molecules used in the tetanus vaccine are destroyed in the digestive system. However, the tetanus molecules are 30 times larger than insulin, making them more difficult to transport. The vaccine is created by literally boiling the tetanus bacteria in a chemical solution, causing the protein to completely unfold. In its new, unfolded state, the tetanus protein is harmless, but is still recognized as tetanus by the immune system so as to trigger a response that protects the person from the disease.
"It's like frying an egg," Doyle says. "The egg white, which is a protein, is clear when you crack the egg into a pan. When the egg heats up, the egg white becomes opaque as the protein unfolds. You still recognize it as an egg, but you can't make the egg white clear again after it's been heated."
The challenge is to figure out how to package this large molecule, sneak it through the digestive system unharmed, and
|Contact: Judy Holmes|